I first saw Black Garlic in the store months ago. I had no idea what it was or why it existed, but I read the label and discovered that it is aged and fermented and for some reason this turns it black. It sounded, frankly, a little disturbing. At some point, though, I decided that as a Food Blogger it is my duty to my readers to try weird food that I find in the grocery store and tell you about it. (Tangent: Don't buy pummelos. They're sorta tasty, but they're way more trouble than they're worth and I wish I had the hour of my life that it took me to eat the damn thing back.)
I started searching for recipes. Recipezaar let me down (for the first time ever) and didn't have anything. Neither did any of the other websites I generally go to for recipes. So I went to Google and searched for Black Garlic and came across the Black Garlic Website. I guess there's only one company that makes it. Anyway, the site told me that "Black garlic is sweet meets savory, a perfect mix of molasses-like richness and tangy garlic undertones. It has a tender, almost jelly-like texture with a melt-in-your-mouth consistency similar to a soft dried fruit. Hard to believe, but true. It’s as delicious as it is unique." Sounds strange, but tasty, and since I love garlic so much it was definitely worth a shot. However, the next thing on the site almost scared me off: "Imagine garlic without all of the annoying stuff. Bad breath? Nope. Pungent odor? Nope. Acrid bite? No sir." Aren't all these things the point of garlic? Why would I eat garlic without the smell and "acrid bite"? Isn't that stuff the appeal of garlic? I guess the Black Garlic guys don't think so. Anyway, Black Garlic is being touted as "the new superfood" and is supposed to have "hell of properties."
Anyway, I finally found a recipe that looked halfway decent for Black Garlic Mac & Cheese. I'd been craving comfort food, and it sounded like a delicious twist on the original. The recipe was kind of annoying to follow because it's written as "use this much per serving" and I prefer to make a ton and have a lot of leftovers, so I had difficulty deciding how much of each ingredient to put in. So I'm posting it here (adapted) for six people to make it easier to follow, and if you're not serving six people, you'll have leftovers.
Black Garlic Mac & Cheese: Recipe
-2.5 cups elbow macaroni (dry)
-About 6 cups of milk
-Enough roux or cornstarch to thicken the milk considerably
-1.5 cups freshly-grated sharp cheddar (I recommend Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar)
-About 1/2 cup freshly-grated parmesan
-4-6 cloves black garlic
-3 cloves NORMAL garlic (my addition)
-Salt and pepper to taste (optional, I usually leave this for people to add individually since I'd put way more pepper in it than anyone would actually want)
-Breadcrumbs to cover
1. Simmer the milk with the salt and pepper (if you're using them) in a large saucepan. Add the roux or cornstarch and mix with a whisk or hand blender until the milk thickens. How thick you want it is up to you--I like mine more solid, but I know plenty of people prefer it saucy.
2. Boil the pasta and run under cold water. Put aside for later.
3. Add cheeses and garlics to the milk-sauce over low heat and stir until the cheese has melted completely into the sauce.
3.5. Preheat the broiler.
4. Add the macaroni, stir to cover the pasta. Let cook for about two minutes.
5. Put the whole mixture into a large bowl and top with breadcrumbs. If you didn't preheat the broiler when I told you to, turn it on now.
6. Put the bowl on a low rack under the broiler (if it's too high, the top will just burn and you'll have black breadcrumbs in addition to black garlic.) Leave it in for one minute. Really. Not longer. It'll burn.
7. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve.
I served mine with canned diced tomatoes. I don't know if this is really a common thing to do, but it's how I grew up eating mac & cheese so it's how I like it. If you haven't tried it, it's tasty--Not Your Average Joe's does a similar thing with their mac & cheese so it can't be all that weird. I also topped it with some pan-fried chicken (another idea stolen from Not Your Average Joe's) which is the top-secret chicken recipe I'm working on and will share when I decide it's ready. The point is that chicken is pretty tasty with this too. The original poster of the recipe is apparently a chef at some big restaurant somewhere and adds lobster meat. I hate seafood, so I wouldn't, but you might want to.
Everything ready to go in the pot!
It doesn't look like anything special, but it was damn tasty. (Also, I completely forgot to take pictures of the finished product the first time around because I was too busy going "OM NOM NOM" so these are the leftovers. Sorry.)
Anyway, the verdict on Black Garlic: if you really, really love garlic, this isn't the garlic for you. It just doesn't have the garlicky flavor that I've been addicted to since I was a kid. However, it's pretty cool, and would probably impress people if you were making something fancy for a dinner party. I mean, it sounds fancy. And if you're not a huge garlic lover, this might be just the thing for you. It has a slight garlic taste, but it's subtle, and won't leave you smelling like garlic for a week. (It's also squishy and difficult to mince, so you'll end up with bigger pieces, but that's okay.) The mac & cheese was absolutely amazing, though--super creamy and rich and plain delicious. Black garlic or not, this will probably remain my go-to recipe when I'm in desperate need of comfort food. (Thanks to AGreatChef for the inspiration!)